Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has downplayed a lawsuit being brought against his government by a family at Sogi.
“I am not worried about it (lawsuit),” Tuilaepa told the Samoa Observer.
“Why should I be worried if the land belongs to the government? Another thing, I’m not a lawyer. The matter is being handled by the Attorney General.
“So there is nothing to worry about.”
Tuilaepa said the government would not change its mind about relocating the people of Sogi to Falelauniu.
He said the land they have been occupying belongs to the government and they are moving ahead with the plan.
Two weeks ago, the family of Tokuma in Sogi engaged a lawyer to challenge the government’s decision to relocate them.
Nanai Liu Tokuma, 76, said they have been left with no other option but to fight the government in Court.
The family’s Court claim is seeking three orders. They are:
• An order from the court to restrain the government from asking the family to pay for any surveying and evaluation works on the land.
• An order to stop the government from relocating the family
• A decision by the government to allow these people to own the land
“We’ve tried everything so that we can keep our land but now we have nowhere to turn to for help so we have decided to take this matter to Court,” said Nanai.
“This is not about money and it will never be about money. We’re not looking for any compensation or anything; we just want our freedom to remain on this land. This land was offered to us by the late Mata’afa Mulinuu when the government at the time mistakenly charged my father with the death penalty. Luckily he escaped the charge.”
The family elder said the Court challenge is about fighting for their inheritance.
“We don’t want any money. We just want the government to give us that freedom to live and die on this land. I’ve already given my statement to the lawyer; it’s all in his hands now.”
The lawyer representing the family is Pa’u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo.
“The Tokuma family has been living in Sogi for more than a hundred years,” he said.
Pau made reference to an incident involving the government many years ago.
“One of those problems was when Nana’i’s father, Tokuma Torurae, was mistakenly charged by the government and when he was about to serve his death penalty, someone testified that Tokuma didn’t kill the businessman."
“Then the late Mata’afa offered the land for Torurae and his family because the government couldn’t afford to pay what they owed him."
“At this stage, we’re looking at imprisonment, unlawful detention and the death penalty that nearly took the old man’s life."
“This matter shouldn't be taken lightly especially when Mata’afa told Tokuma ‘go live on the land with your children’.”